Saturday, December 31, 2011

A "Pro Style" approach to the spread offense

I was asked by a reader to talk about the use of a series based offense.  There has also been a lot of talk on coachhuey about series based offense, and using a series based approach within a spread offense.

I think being in spread puts more emphasis on thinning out the defense, making them defend the entire field and utilizing numbers and leverage to move the ball, but one can still use a series based approach to play the if/then game when a defender or defenders begin to "cheat" their responsibilities in order to make a stop.  Offense is all about putting defenders in conflict.

I started drawing up this little series of plays when this season ended.  I looked at how I used to do things out of 2 back under center, and the play action game we had a lot of success with.  I am normally a fan of staying as maximally spread out as possible, for example this past season 100% of our snaps were from 10 or empty personnel... no TE EVER, no 2 Back EVER.  The majority of the season we had a QB who wasn't necessarily a great runner, looking back I think the added back or TE could have helped us since our QB didn't really read BSDE and we didn't run him very often.  Next year we have 2 QBs who can fly and will be more than capable of reading BSDE and designed QB runs.  However I have set up this little package as something that can be used without a running QB, year in, year out, regardless of talent.  Now if you get a kid who can run it and throw it, then it just opens up the options you have even more.

Please excuse the crude drawings... I've tried a bunch of different playbook software, but still find good old microsoft paint the easiest.

I base this series out of an Off-Set I look, just in the gun.  Y by our base alignment is our slot WR, he can be moved to either right or left side, or with the use of a "YO" tag he can come down to a TE position if we feel that will help us.  For this article's sake , all of the drawings are with Y as a slot and H in the offset "full back" position.  Our "H" is our slot WR as well when we are in 1 back, this is a good fit for that "tweener" type of kid.

QB is at 4.5 yards, RB at 6, H even with the QB and aligned over B gap... might play with these alignments, but this is what I have seen a lot of teams do.

Every play in this 4 play series begins with the QB catching the snap and opening to the Left (counter clockwise) and with the RB stepping to the left of the QB.  That is what sets up the series based approach, the fact that the initial movement of the QB and F look the same on every play 

1. Power
Standard Power G scheme to the Left.  Playside OL will down block or double to backside LB. FB kicks out DE, BSG skip pulls to playside ILB.  BST hinge blocks BSDE.  QB can sell dropback or boot action after he hands off to F.  If, let's say, the defense aligns in 2 high look (4-3) then I would have the playside down/double to MLB, and BSG would skip pull to the LOLB.

Schematically, if my H can get a semi decent kickout block I should be OK, my playside OL has good angles and we account for every hat with the exception of the LOLB in the above look.  Now his alignment can vary depending on how the defense wishes to play it, but they have to give something up.  He may stay with a wide alignment to help that corner with our X WR underneath.  If talent is equal, I think my guys should be able to win those battles up front and we will get 4-5 yards a pop on POWER.  The only one who can really stop it is the LOLB.  

That is the next part in the series, taking advantage of that LOLB when he wants to make the tackle on power. We can run a play action pass in to that LOLB and catch him cheating 
#2 Flood Left

 If we slide pass pro the OL right, it looks just like the playside down blocks on Power.  H will attack DE and chip him as he slips into the flat. F fakes Power Left and runs right at that playside DE. (I could also have my OL just block man on if I was worried about the RB on the DE ) X Clears out, Y runs the deep crossing route, Z runs a backside post and we end up in a pretty standard Flood Concept to the playside.  

I would probably semi roll the QB to it after he fakes, most times he will be able to hit the H in the flats right now, if the LOLB does recognize it as a pass and chases the H, the Y will likely come open when he gets all the way across.  I can also help my Y by using the YO tag which will bring him in so he doesn't have as far to run to get across.

Now let's say the inside LBs are really flowing hard to blow up Power, or we get secondary rotation to where our QB is opening we can hit them with Counter back to the strong side.

#3 Counter
coachhuey knows how much I love the counter scheme.  Doing it from this set allows us to block the backside DE, and by removing Y from the box we can remove a LB.
QB still opens up to the left, F steps Left like he is getting power, then plants and gets the hand off over the top of the QB to run counter Right.
Standard Counter Scheme up front, playside OL blocking down/doubling to backside LB, Center blocking back, BSG pull and Kick, BST pull up to LB.

Inserting H allows us to block the backside DE.

Now depending on the type of kid I had at Y, I could bring him down to a TE position, to widen the playside DE, he would down block on the PSILB, and the tackle would pull to that OLB who would likely condense with the Y condensing in YO.  Just depends on the kid I have there, how I would handle it.

Lastly when teams begin to jump the counter, we can hit them with another play action flood concept.

#4 Flood Right
Same concept that we had to the left.  Ol can man protect or slide it. H can chip DE on his way out to help the protection, F sells counter. QB can half roll to it if that makes it easier and we get our standard flood to the playside.  Again, I can mix in the YO tag if I want.  

These 4 plays(really only 3) are simple, effective and can yield a lot of mileage.  They are good under center and in the gun.  I could easily seeing us install this package, plus 4 verts and do nothing but work that for the first week of spring ball.

Looking Beyond these 4 plays
While I think this is a pretty good start to an offense, I do not think that it is enough by itself to beat a good team.  These are some ideas I have just glancing at the formation.

Screen Game, all of our screen game exists still, really with little to no changes.  We can fake run and throw screen to either direction, this would especially be good if we get soft corner over X and the OLB wants to crowd into the box to play run.

We can use an OZ scheme and run stretch, or just pitch the ball to F going to the H side (Left in the above diagrams). H would lead block on the OLB, OL just uses OZ to seal the edge.

I have seen teams run sweep (OZ) with H going to the right, and having F lead block around he edge for him... one could use this or the inverted veer Dash concept with H has the one getting the ball.  F would lead block to the Right in either case, H would come across the QB as he is reading the Right DE, OL uses the Power G scheme that they already have a ton of reps in because Power G was the first play installed in the series.  

We are already in a 7 man protection, we could run the outside WRs on anything we want deep to exploit a 1 on 1 match up with the corner and we can use Y to control the middle with a search route.

I can go ISO either way very easily.

If I wanted to get into a triple option look, I can use H as the dive on veer, or have him run zone and read BSDE... with F stepping around running pitch relation.  I could run a loaded speed option quite easily.

I could easily get in to the air raid staples of mesh, shallow, stick etc. (they started from 2 back offense anyway)

Heck I'd still probably be able to get H up the Hash and run 4 verts from this set.  

These are just some examples of simple things that could be done from this formation beyond the 4 play series I started with.  If I wanted to include more QB runs because he was a kid I wanted to feed there are a number of ways I can do so.  Naked QB runs after fakes to F, I can run follow plays with the QB to really try to overload a defense by having H and F lead block for QB.  
Again I can use the option plays mentioned above (dash,veer,zone triple,speed option)

Now of course everything I mentioned would probably be TOO MUCH offense to ever get really good at something, but a few of those ideas can be picked out, added to the 4 play series I started with and then you have an entire offense that can stretch the field in any direction as well as put defenders in conflict.  

One other benefit is in short yardage or goal line...Many people feel spread can not work in short yardage situations... I do not agree with this, but say for some reason (weather, injury to Center) I did not want to be in the gun, I could pretty easily go under center and run this series pretty much the same way, I would just need a little bit of work with the QB on the footwork, because in Gun he just catches and turns.

Being an OC in HS is all about putting the 17 year old kids on defense in conflict, so much internal conflict and sadness that after the game they turn Emo...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I actually finished a book! (Dan Gonzalez - Concept Passing)

I got this book for Christmas, started reading it late Christmas night and finished it in 24 hours.

I must say that I hate reading books.  I am a fast reader, enjoyed it as a kid, but reading books just bores the life out of me now.  The last time I finished a book was 10 years ago when I was in 8th grade.  Once I got to High School I began hating reading, both for school and for pleasure.  I went through HS and my entire undergrad without reading books, even textbooks.

I have started a couple of coaching related books, thinking they would be interesting enough to captivate me but they never are.  I can read threads of all night but something about sitting down and reading a book is almost unbearable.

The fact that I finished this book, and in 24 hours, speaks to how well written and interesting it is.  I must say that this is the first time I have read this book, but it will not be the last.  The diagrams help to "flesh out" what Gonzalez is saying but there is so much content that I do not think you can truly soak it all in on the first read through.

Gonzalez gives a thorough break down of his passing scheme.  He begins with a break down of his terminology, the importance/use of formations and personnel groupings within the concepts, and pass protections.

Gonzalez then goes in to each of the 9 pass concepts... he refers to them by name and by number.  Each is given a digit number, that when partnered with the pass protection gives the play.  Plays in Gonzalez's system use a 2 digit number, the first gives the protection, the second the base pass concept.  They have many backside tags and route alterations to add on to the concepts.  To be honest I think there is too much for a high school offense.  The way he offers it up, if you did everything then yes, you could beat every single coverage under the sun, as well as every single adjustment from every single defensive player imaginable.  The problem is I think it is just too much to teach to 16 year olds, and I think it puts too much on the QB.  That said, the base concepts, with a tag or two is definitely doable and would provide the basis for a very effective HS passing game.

I am going to give a very brief description of the 9 concepts within the book.

Drag Concept:

Very similar to Air Raid Shallow, some tags/variations add a mesh look.

Vertical Concept:

 4 verts, but Gonzalez teaches a seam read from one slot WR, as well as streak read routes from the outside WR.  I really like the way he teaches it much better than how we have taught it for the last 2 years.

Two Man Game Concept:
This is the stick concept in air raid terms.  

Quick Concept:
This is actually multiple concepts.  They have several quick concepts that are called by name after the number

Corner Concept:
This is Smash or Hi/Lo.  Gonzalez offers two versions of this that are similar but have a couple slight difference.  Each is given it's own number in his playcalling system but they are taught together because they are so closely related.

Horizontal Concept:  
This is your standard curl/flat concept.

Numbers Concept:
This concept is designed to isolate WRs in one on one match ups.  Basically you are using a 7 man protection, having your two outside WRs run a deep out or something that isolates them on the corner.  Another WR will run a route to the middle of the field to give 3 vertical routes if you end up going against a cover 2.  

Three Level Concept:
This is a flood concept, Gonzalez also includes a variation where instead of flooding the outside 1/3 of the field, the routes flood the middle 1/3 of the field... so you are high/lowing an inside backer rather than flat defender.

Object Concept: This is essentially a way of tagging a specific WR on a route designed to get him open 1 on 1, it is added on to another one of the base concepts (that are called by number) one WR is tagged with an object concept route and only that WRs route changes.

After reading this book I think the Object concept and other tags can be a lot to handle for most kids... I really don't see myself incorporating them this year.

One thing that I liked is the pass game I have been drafting all off season for us next year lines up very closely to the concepts at the core of Gonzalez pass game.  It lets me know I was on the right track, and I will continue to use this book to help learn how to teach these core concepts better.

I am really in love with the Vertical, 2 man game, numbers, corner, and 3 level concepts in this book.  

The Drag concept is a possibility for the future, we ran shallow and mesh this year... I didn't love either one, but perhaps reading this chapter over again several times will make me value it more.

I highly recommend this book to any of you who think you have something to learn about the passing game.  

Now I am off to start working on all of my rules to make these concepts able to work in all of our formations with as simple rules as possible.  I'm also starting to work on our verbal and signal no huddle for next year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


The Screen posts I put up last year seemed to be the most popular so I picked out a few highlights on our screens this year... you will see they vary from solid to jail to RB screens. They are a big part of our offense and I have found we can run them pretty much against anybody when our WRs commit to blocking.

Sorry for the poor video quality... The video is in good quality when I watch it on hudl and on my computer but something about uploading it to this blog makes it look like Atari.

Enjoy !

Friday, December 16, 2011

Counter, Counter, Counter, and more Counter

I want to thank every one's favorite French coach, Julien for suggesting the topic of this post... Counter from the spread, or as some other spread coaches refer to it, GT.

This is my favorite play in football, not just from spread, I made a living off of it when I coached in the fly and when I coached in a more pro style 21 personnel offense.  I just live the scheme, its simplicity, and to me it has an answer for every defense.

The scheme itself is quite simple:

Play side: we block down or double to backside backer... we always leave PSDE and PSLB alone (unless they cross face

Backside Guard pulls and kicks out PSDE
Backside Tackle pulls and leads up on PSLB

Nothing magical about it, and I am sure we have all seen it or run it in our careers.

Went from a zone based team in 2010 to a gap based run team this year and it worked much better for us. We rushed for 1700 yards with 100% of our snaps being from 10 personnel or empty.  Not bad IMO for a team that passed as much as we did.  Counter was a staple of our run game throughout the season... I must admit that as the season went on teams got better at stopping it... that is what I want to focus on now... the little things we did wrong, that I have learned from, that we can correct to run the hell out of Counter next season.

I want to first clarify that we had 3 variations of counter this season... regular counter (read on BSDE by QB), CAT (front side counter, RB aligned on same side as counter , took a few steps then cut back following tackle), and Q Counter (RB fakes across, blocks BSDE and Q keeps it).

Our first problem came from backside Ends... it was a problem that should have an easy answer... the whole point of running this from spread is the read on the backside End...I do not know what happened to us this season but for whatever reason this was never stressed enough.  We had 2 QBs, a pocket passer, and a wildcat type kid as a change of pace... the passer wasnt a great run threat but we never repped the read aspect enough so DEs would chase without fear of consequence... when teams could catch us from backside it really took away our ability to call this play.

We tried putting some band aids over this by bringing a slot WR split down to a wing like position in order to step across and seal off the DE from chasing tackle... but our WRs never understood how to do this properly so it was pretty much a waste.

Our CAT play is good in theory because it actually has a counter action by the RB starting one way and cutting back but we could only run this with a team who had their BSDE sit and not chase pulling tackle

Q counter was the "safest" way to call counter because our RB could account for BSDE... with the wildcat kid in this was a great play for us this season and even the pocket pass had a couple big first down runs for us on it this season, the highlight of which came when he just about piggybacked our pulling tackle into the end zone to ice a big comeback win for us mid season.

So my 2012 answer for this problem is

  1. Rep the crap out of the read aspect... the wildcat kid comes back and will likely start, his competition is our JV QB from last year who is a very good athlete himself, either way if teams want to have DE chase next year against us, our QB will be GONE out the backside
  2. I want to incorporate some 2 back sets so we can use 1 back to block the backside DE when we want to pound our RB, if i want to pound the QB I can run our Q counter the same way we did this year
Our next issue was the PSDE, as we went along this season we faced 2 problems from DEs
One team wrong armed us... My OL had the right response, guard logged it, tackle saw it and bounced it naturally, our problem was our RB didn't see it and wouldn't bounce it outside... the coaching staff took the blame on this one, our guys up in the press box couldn't see this was happening so we abandoned counter but really the issue was us not telling the back to run it wide like sweep... looking back on film there were 3 times the RB ran wide and it was a 10+ yard gainer each time.  Looking back I do not know how we missed that one.

Problem #2, The teams that stuffed us had physical specimens at DE and were able to read our down block and crash down so hard down the LOS that they laid the hammer on our guards... we never got a good kick out.

My answer for this next year is the DART play...  We did a good job of 1 on 1 blocking these same DEs when we ran dive and sweep... instead of trying to kick him, I want to base him with our PST, have everyone but the BST base block, and then have BST pull and lead up on the PSLB... instead of trying to dig him out with the guard, the PST has an easier assignment riding the DE out

That play, mixed with our counter scheme, mixed with our sweep(OZ) scheme... puts a lot on that DEs plate... add in the fact that we can option him by running inverted veer and he doesn't know what to do on the snap.

Although we ran less counter in the 2nd half of the season because of the above issues, I think it will be the core of our offense in 2012.  The speed bumps we faced this season only helped me to learn more about the scheme and how to adjust it in order to make it work.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I need Ideas

I haven't been on here in way too long, this was a long season but in a good way.
We went from 1 win to 6 wins...More than doubled our points scored from last season, made the playoffs for the first time in 8 years, beat our cross town rival for the first time in 7 years, and nearly pulled off a huge first round upset against our most hated rival.

Now that the season is over and we are approaching the winter break I have some free time on my hands again and feel like getting back to writing.

Please email me at

and let me know the things you would like to see future posts about, the more suggestions I get, the more I can write about in the coming weeks/months.

Please flood my inbox!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Attacking the back side of Trips with the SNAG Concept

I have recently become enamored by the "Snag" Concept.  Greater detail on the Snag Concept can be found on Brophy's Blog .

There is both a 2 man and 3 man concept to the Snag play.  I specifically like the 2 man SNAG concept on the backside of our trips and that is what I will discuss in this article. 

As I discussed in a recent post I love using trips to put stress on the defense and will attack that 3 WR side until it gets taken away.  It is important to have answer plays that hit on the single WR side to punish the defense for adjusting to your trips by putting 3 defenders out on your 3 WR's.  Snag is a great play on the back side to take advantage of this.

The Snag concept consists of 2 parts, the "Snag route" by the WR, which is similar to a slant, he is basically trying to run directly behind the next LB and spot up when the LB crosses his face.

The RB runs what I will refer to as a speed swing from the back field.  He takes 3 steps laterally and sprints to the bottom of the numbers, he has to get here as fast as possible to force that weak side Lb to chase him, if he gets to the numbers without the ball he will turn it up the field.

The QB is working that weak side LB and is thinking he will throw the speed swing, unless that WLB sprints and chases it, thus opening the Snag Route right behind him.

This is a great concept against soft 3 and quarters.  It is workable against man to man, but the X must feel the corner trailing him and adjust his route to essentially run into the WLB, giving the RB a pick to get open.

This can be defended by a cover 2 defense in which case I will tell my QB to not work this on the back side.

Some of the plays I have thought of using this Snag Concept on the back side...


QB can work the flood concept on the trips side, or throw the 2 man Snag back side

This is my favorite way to run "Stick". We run a lot of bubble and other screens so that bubble by Y can really open up  on the stick, OLBs will often FLY out to stop the bubble.  2 Man Snag on the back side of course.


I could see this being a great play for us if we invest the time in to it.  We are essentially getting in this play a concept that can beat anything we will see.  The trips side Smash Concept is our answer vs Cover 2, against a cover 3 or quarters defense we can work the back side Snag with ease.  And finally against man to man we can work the Rub on the Snag, or take our shot deep with H being matched up 1 on 1.

My goal with these concepts is to attack that trips side, but always have that SNAG concept on the back side as one of our answers for when the defense commits to taking that away.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Play Action Pass Protections

After a Facebook Shout Out from Julien , I have decided to break down play action pass protections.

I have used each of these 3 pass protections in the past, all with success.  They are probably the 3 simplest/most common play action protections I have seen used.

The first is... our regular standard pass pro.  Many Air Raid offenses call this play as an 80 series play.  So if say 4 verts is 97 in our offense, this would be 87.  The OL bands just say 90, RB just does a little fake dive, QB sticks it out then drops.  This is the simplest form of play action pass protection we can do because there is nothing new for the OL at all.

We Stay in our regular BOB Pas Pro Rules

The next 2 pass protections can be used for straight drop back off of play action but I have mostly used them with roll out/boot type play action plays. 

The first I will show is a full slide play action pass protection.  This was my main play action protection I used last year because we ran a lot of sprint out, so since we were already good at that, I used the same word on my OL's wristband to tell them which way to slide and block.  RB just fakes across and picks up on the back side.

I use an "L" or "R" word to designate to my OL which way we are sliding on their wristband. 
RB we use Flame - Fake Left
                  Fire - Fake Right

The final play action protection I will use is a pretty standard "boot" protection.  I have seen countless teams run this from under center, and the rules remain the same in the spread.  I did not use this last year, but this was our only play action protection in the 4 years I coached in an under center Fly/Pro offense.

It works well because it is very similar schematically to a trap play we already ran, they just couldn't go down field of course.  To the defense keying OL, it must have looked very similar to our base run play.

Boot Right:
  • RT steps in to B Gap
  • RG steps in to A Gap
  • C steps in to back side A Gap
  • LG pulls to block DE - Kick out or Log depending on DE's action
  • LT steps in to B Gap
  • RB fakes across and blocks first thing off the edge of LT's Butt
I would teach this protection as a concept and label it "Boot Rt" or "Boot Lt"

My Play Calling Thought Process

Duece gave a great break down of Paul Johnson's If/Then thought process when calling offense the triple option...HERE .

It got me thinking about If/Then games within our spread offense and what I use when calling offense.  Now I do not have it broken down into an actual sheet, this is all stuff that has been floating around in my brain, this is actually the first time I will have put these thoughts down in writing so please excuse me if it becomes an incoherent mess.

I believe in having answers for anything a defense may throw at you.  What I like about being in spread, and using no huddle forces the defense into a lot of vanilla looks, or they are at the very least predictable... most teams sit in 1 or 2 different things against us and just stay.  We see very little interplay variability. 

We primarily operate from 2x2 and 3x1 formations.  I will refer to our 2x2 formation as Ace for the remainder of this post.

The Box

If we are in Ace, the defense will surely have corners aligned in the area of our outside WRs.  Every team we play will have at least 1 Safety high.  Defenses must put defenders at least somewhat removed from the box in .  That is 5 players that we have removed from the box.

Basic math: 11-5 = 6 Defenders in the box... 5 if they play a 2 high coverage.

As an OL coach I can draw up a multitude of schemes to run against 5 and 6 man boxes.

Keep them out of the box
Next I look at the defenses overhang players... the guy between the team's CB and their DE.  If they are sound defensively they will likely have this player at least splitting the difference between our OT and slot WR when we are in ACE.  I WANT to run the ball... if this player begins cheating his alignment toward the box in order to play the run, then I will use bubbles or screens outside to out leverage him immediately.  Play action bubble was a staple of my offense last season, it is a great answer for OLB/SS's who wish to play the run.

 I am a huge believer in using trips.  Being in trips puts a great deal of stress on the defense, some defenses have major adjustments, some have no adjustments... either way you must be ready with the appropriate answer for the defensive reaction.

Using TRIPS is especially important when on the hashes.  HS Hash marks are so wide I feel you almost HAVE to be in trips to the wide side.  Being in Ace on a Hash does not spread the defense out because your slot and SE are so close, the overhang does not have to remove himself from the box. 

Remember removing defenders is not just critical for running success, it makes pass protection much easier and more clearly defined. 

I look at numbers to the trips side.  How many defenders do they have aligned to the trips side?
If they only have 2 defenders to cover my 3 WR's then I want to attack that area of the field.  I can do this through a flood concept, any of our screens, and outside runs to that side... I have them outnumbered and that is where I must attack. 

If they put 3 defenders over my 3 WR's, any of the above plays can still work, but I begin looking at the rest of the defense as well.  To put 3 defenders over my 3 WR's the defense has to do one of 3 things:

Walk a defender out of the box
If they walk an inside backer out of the box to the trips side then I want to run inside.  Think about it... we already have reduced numbers in the box via formation, and they have just removed one of the defenders.

Shift backers to the Trips side
Seeing as removing a backer from the box weakens the inside run ability of the defense, many DC will either flop their overhang player from the weakside, or bump the backers over...  Overhang bumps inside, bumping all backers over until the ILB on the trips side now walks out over the #3 WR.  If a team does this they have covered your 3 WR's on the trips side, maintained their numbers in the box they began with, but they have opened up possibilities on the backside.  Without an overhang player on the single WR side, that WR has a lot of room to work with, this is where you play your stud WR.  Without an overhang player (and often a soft corner) I can attack the weak flat area with slants, curls, and screens. 

A great play when on a Hash is going trips to the wide side, and throwing a play action screen back to the single WR. Play fake gets the defense flowing to the wide side, and being on the hash gives the OT a shorter distance to run to block the corner.  Without an overhang player to the weakside this can really hurt the defense.

Hitting the RB in the weak flat is another great way of exposing no overhang player.  Outside runs (Jet or my favorite, QB sweep) also do the trick. 

Bring down the Free Safety
If a team walks their FS down to our trips side... then I want to attack deep.  I can run my backside WR on posts and he has the whole field to work with , since there is no FS.  Most teams will not do this, he may cheat to the trips but few teams I have seen will walk him up to play over one of our 3 WR's.  The other 2 scenarios are more likely.

For this scenario to take place a defense would have a CB, LB, and FS over your 3 WR's.  Keep their box numbers and keep their overhang, they can stay sound against many of the plays I have described but they are completely vulnerable deep down the MOF. 

That is the thought process I use when calling plays.  I enjoy the chess match component of coaching football more than anything else, and a playcaller must always have the next answer ready. 

Last year I went even crazier into this, I would use 4x1, some unbalanced stuff with WRs... all trying to gain numbers advantage somewhere.  I followed the same logic as above. 

Of course there are other factors that go in to play calling but these are some general things I examine from the defense when calling plays.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Creating a Team Camp

Last Summer we attended a team camp for Varsity and JV at a High School about 30 minutes away... it cost $75 per kid.  With about 50 or so kids total between our two teams we ended up giving that school over $3,000.

There were only 3 varsity teams competing total and 2 JV teams.  The drills prior to scrimmaging were unorganized and pointless.  The scrimmage sessions themselves were fairly unorganized and there was never a solid schedule set for the day.  They gave us a t shirt, and provided meals each day, but nothing special.

After this past season I moved from JV HC, to Varsity Assistant HC.  We originally planned on going to a college camp in the Summer, but the one we planned on going to conflicted with Summer School here so it wasn't an option. 

One day I had an idea... why pay someone else for a crappy camp, when I can run one myself.
  • A better quality camp
  • Charge our kids much less
  • Actually turn a profit from the other teams
I brought this idea up to the head coach and he was slightly hesitant at first, I promised that I could handle it all and that we could pull it off and eventually he gave me the green light.

On Monday July 25-Thursday July 28 we are hosting the 1st Annual Battle of the Bay Football Camp at Antioch High School.  We have 5 varsity teams in attendance, and 2 JV teams.  It is a 4 day camp, 4.5 hours per day, everyone gets a shirt, and everyone gets fed 1 meal per day.

I am more excited for this camp than I have ever been for a camp in my coaching career.

Here are the steps to planning a team camp I used, and that others can use in the future to run their own team camps:

1.  Administrative Support
The first thing I did was to speak to the AD about this.  He is a former coach and has been very supportive.  He presented the idea to the principal and they said as long as we handled all of the legal aspects of putting on the camp we had their blessing.  Having an AD and principal who supported this Camp from Day 1 has been beneficial because they helped us in step 2...

2. Secure your facilities
One might think that using your own football stadium for a camp would be pretty easy but our district makes it all difficult.  We have to fill out all kinds of forms, get district approval, and then pay for a custodian.  Our principal went to bat for us and made sure we got the facility use permit approved, and agreed to pay the bill for custodial over time and getting the field lined. 

3. Find Teams!
I knew I had to find teams to attend our camp.  I have built up a lot of contacts in my phone from coaching in this area for so long but I got help from an equipment vendor.  I received a mass email sent to me by an equipment vendor and I looked through all of the emails he had sent it to as well.  They were all coaches in Northern CA.  So I copied all of the email addresses, and sent out a mass email to them asking to come to our first annual camp.  I received a lot of "No Thanks" and "we are already going somewhere else"... But I was able to get 3 teams committed from this email, it was definitely worth the 10 minutes it took.  I called the Head Coach at my Alma mater, and the school I coached at for 4 years... he needed a cheap camp, and I was able to provide that for him.  So I now had 4 schools, plus my own making 5 ... which is where my HC and myself decided to cut our camp off for this first year.

We were able to hook these schools by offering them tremendous value for the price.  4 day camp, with t shirts, and food everyday for just $40 per kid (compare that to 40 we paid the year before for the same things).

Next came

Cover Your @SS... Plain and simple.  That was the biggest caveat the principal/AD/District gave us, is that we had to have insurance for the camp since we were bringing in so many outside participants.  This step took a while, simply because I shopped around.  I must have checked out 100 insurance companies... I finally settled on a company based here in Northern CA, Gagliardi Insurance.  They have a football camp package for just under $4 per kid for a week long camp.  The great thing about this company is once we have a policy set up through them, and now that they have my credit card on file, I can add participants on to the policy with just an email and it is active.  We purchased camp insurance for 150 participants, we low balled it at first, but this was just to have proof of insurance to secure our facility and get district approval.  Now that I know the exact number of kids more precisely I just send en email to the insurance agent I dealt with authorizing them to charge another $400 to my card to cover 100 more participants.

5. T Shirts
We told our equipment rep about our camp... told him it would be a great networking opportunity for him, with 4 other programs here, he could talk to head coaches, pass out brochures and attract more business for himself.  He agreed to provide the t shirts for our camp at a discounted rate in exchange for us letting him come and set up a booth at our camp.  We actually have a very cool t shirt design... Battle of the Bay Football Camp... with a Big Pic of the state of CA on it, with a STAR located over the bay area...  I will be sure to post a picture once we have the shirts this week.

I knew I had to find food for roughly 300 people for 4 days... That is a lot of food.
Our team moms have been great at helping out this.  My suggestion is to look for as many donations as possible and buy in bulk.  I found someone to donate 600 hot dogs and buns, one day of camp food was done.  A team mom's husband works for a restaurant supply company and got us more hot dogs and hamburgers at a severely discounted price.  One of our players mom's works for a bread company and got us more buns and dinner rolls for free.  And Finally we are going to purchase a ton of pasta and pre made sauce from Costco and 2 coaches wives have agreed to cook it all for the pasta night.

We will end up with 2 days of 2 Hot dogs each for everyone
1 day of hamburgers for everyone
1 day of pasta for everyone

7. Get Volunteers!
We have a crew of team moms and coaches wives helping with all of the food cooking and prep work.  A dad has volunteered to handle barbecuing, and the entire cheerleading team will be there all 4 days of camp to help out with whatever we need.  We have gotten a great deal of support and my goal is for this camp to run without any hitches.

8.  Make the Schedule
The last step, and maybe most important from the football aspect of camp is planning the daily schedule.  This step took a while because with 5 teams , we will always have 4 teams playing at a time, and 1 team out with a bye.  I had to organize the 7 on 7 and scrimmage time so that we all had equal rest periods, played each other equally, and no one got short changed in any one area.  It took me a few hours of messing around with the schedule on excel but eventually I found something I liked.

One thing I really like that I am doing is with the OL/DL.  When everyone else is doing 7 on 7, the OL/DL will be with me on a practice field doing 1 on 1s.  We will have a different challenge type drill each day in which 5 members of each team will compete in events for points representing their school. One event a day, tire flips, obstacle course, farmers walk, tug o war.  At the end of the week I will award a Thick Golden Chain for the winning team.

After the competition, OL and DL will do drive block and pass pro 1 on 1s against each other until the 7 on 7s are done.

The rest of the time will be spent scrimmaging and each day will finish with a goal line challenge period.

I am incredibly excited to get this camp underway and see how it goes.  I will post some pics/videos and my post camp reflection when camp is over.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

I apologize for my lack of posts recently, I have been busy working around the clock. 
I graduated in the beginning of June and began the summer portion of my teacher credential program immediately.

I am almost done with this program and have come to develop a love/hate relationship with it.

I hate it because the course schedule  is 4:30-9:30 everyday.  We get one day off per week to work on online homework instead of in class work so I have only been able to go to 1 practice per week the entire summer.  It has been extremely difficult for me to stay away.  in the 6 years I have been coaching this is the first time I have ever had to miss practice and it has been difficult.  Luckily the guys I coach have been extremely understanding and have organized our practice schedule so that we always work Offense on the 1 day a week I can make it to practice (OL is my primary position).

I love it because I have learned so much about teaching, classroom management, and setting effective routines in place to increase efficiency in the classroom.  Many say that the best coaches are the best teachers and vice versa.  I truly believe that everything I am learning about classroom management will help me in coaching.  Simple things having to do with objectives for each practice, and establishing pre, during, and post practice routines will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of each practice.

Missing a good portion of our summer practices has helped me realize how much I love football, coaching, and the kids.  This time of year is often referred to as the "dog days of Summer".  No one really wants to be there, coaches included, and it is a grind.  I on the other hand now cherish that one practice per week I get; I look forward to it every week and know it will be the best day of the week for me.

Luckily I just have one week left, and then I am back to full time football mode. 

*Side Note*

I am very excited for the end of this month... I made my own football camp and this is our first year hosting it.  I have 4 other teams coming here for a week of full contact action and it should be a lot of fun.  This will also be our first time in full gear against anyone else so it will be our first real test.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Feeling extremely fortunate/honored

I just wanted to share with everyone how fortunate I feel to be able to share my thoughts on football with the world.  I have spent the last couple years learning from and looking up to guys like Hoover and Deuce and I feel extremely honored to be mentioned by them on their blogs.

Seriously... I have been reading stuff from these guys for years and to be mentioned by them is seriously one of the coolest feelings I have ever had.

In the last couple weeks I have been receiving phone calls, texts, PMs on HUEY, and emails asking about football and it has been a great experience.  I am happy people out there value my opinion and I want to extend the offer to everyone to use me as a resource if I can help you in any way.

I will be pretty busy in the coming weeks, I graduate next week, I begin my credential program next week, and of course summer practice will be heating up soon, but I will do my best to get back to anyone with any questions they might have.  I truly love talking about football and I am happy to share with whoever is willing to listen.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

KISS OL Install

NO! Not that kiss

A blog post by this week by Coach Hoover got me thinking about KISS, the link can be found here.

Install is something that is often brought up and I have seen install done horribly.  The school I used to coach at was about plays... not execution.  My final year there, the OC ran every play you can think but we weren't very good at any of them.

I truly love our offense now... not because Spread is sexy and new but because it is very simple to install with my guys upfront.  I do not care how good your team is it all starts up front.  I differ from many TFS clients in the fact that I believe in running the ball first, I love the reduced numbers in the box that 2x2 and 3x1 give us, it makes my job as an OL coach easier.

We just wrapped up spring ball and I have 95% of the offense in with the OL.
We have 4 different run plays that can be run out of any formation with either F or Q as the ball carrier.  Within those 4 plays I only had to teach 3 schemes because our power G scheme is used for both Power G and our inverted veer play (what TOG calls Dash).  I discussed the flexibility of this blocking scheme here.

So in the 6 days we have had to practice offense I installed 3 run schemes, 90 pass pro, 60 pass pro, sprintout pass pro, and 3 of our screens.  That is a good majority of our total offense for my OL and we did nothing but review the final 2 offensive days to make sure we had these things down.

They key to what I feel has been the most successful installation spring ball of my 6 year coaching career has been
  1. the simple rules for plays
  2. the carryover between plays
Our run game is gap based and the players are given rules that will work against any front... we have been mixing going against odd and even fronts all spring ball without any problems.  Our screens are incredibly simple for the OL because they have a universal set of rules they use for their release on all screens.  Our screens are based so that no set player has any set defender, which gives us the flexibility to pick up any Defense on any screen without any changes.  Only thing that I have to install once they understand our fast screen is what their first steps are before they release.

60 and 90 pass pro is easy because in terms of scheme they are identical.  I teach 90 first because the steps are slightly more difficult, once I have taught 90, 60 is just 1/2 the steps and 60 is installed.

Sprint out is simple enough and that is my install for OL.

The carryover between run plays is what has made this extremely easy for me.  We devised our run game with simple block down rules playside, we are leaving the PSDE and PSLB unblocked every play by the frontside... after 2 weeks of beating those rules into their heads the frontside has it down now.

We mess with the defense by altering who picks up the DE and LB, sometimes a kickout by either a FB or G, sometimes we read the DE, sometimes we Log him.  for the LB sometimes we have G take him, sometimes WR cracks on him, sometimes RB blocks him.  Essentially for my OL we are only changing the backside pullers responsibility... playside stays the same and the backside tackle always executes a hinge block ...which I am teaching the same as our backside on sprint out pass pro, so there is even more carry over!

Everything I have installed builds upon what they already know and is so simple, that even my kids who have never played and was really worried about (mentally) have picked it all up.

For example our next play to be installed when we start our summer practice is "Counter"... this will take all of about 30 seconds to install because it is the exact same as our current "Power" (the first play we put in day1) but we add the tackle pulling instead of hinging.  Exact same frontside rules!  By having these few schemes, that can be run with different variations we get a complex, no huddle offense that is still simple for my guys up front. 

I fully expect the decreased thinking to result in increased aggression.

Coaches remember, keep your schemes simple and try to increase inter-schematic carryover as much as possible! It leads to enhanced learning and performance.

This is by far the most confident I have felt about my OL as a unit in 6 years of coaching.  By August I will have 2 full offensive lines that can flat out play

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Drill Videos are Here!!!

Sorry for the delay, it rained on offensive day 1 but the sun came out a bit today so I was able to film some of our drills.  Here is a short video I just made showing off some of our daily drills.

Ladder Drill, Stance, Mirror, Vertical Setting, Cage, 60/90 sets

Best $20 you can spend on your program

What if a simple $20 purchase can make your practices more efficient and time effective than ever before?

Well that is all it takes to have a practice segment timer.  These are incredibly beneficial and will keep your practices moving fast and you will get more done in less time than ever before.  We have gone to 5 minute segments at all practices and with out a $1,000 + dollar segment timer at our disposal we thought we could just have a student with a stopwatch and a whistle keep us on track, but something always got messed up.  If a student manager didn't show up, or messed up one time all of practice was messed up.  Plus there was no way of knowing when you were close to ending a segment.

Enter Coach Hoover
He makes CD's with mp3 of a segment timer on them.  He has ones ready with 5 minute segment and a horn buzz with the segment number.  All you need is some sort of audio device or better yet, play it over the PA system at your stadium.  Best thing is it has a beep beep with 2 minutes remaining as a way of knowing when you are getting closer to the end of a segment. 

This is a great value because we just hit play once and our entire practice is taken care of, we segment everything out to 5 minute drills.  Need more time at a drill? double up and do 2 or 3 segment in a row, but you are still going off the 5 minute segment timer.  It has improved our pace, efficiency and getting our backups in.  Now with a 20 minute team session divided into 4 - 5 minute segments we can give our backups the exact amount of time we want in because the horn tells us when to switch.

Enough of my rambling about how awesome and simple this is.  Here is the link to buy it from coach Hoover.

You are crazy to not buy this if you want better faster practices and for just $20... how can you pass this offer up?

Friday, May 13, 2011

DIY OL Ladders

Hi guys, I have to pay respect to Brophy and his blog, he gave me the insight for this.  His post on it can be found here . His blueprint was for a 15 space ladder, I decided to make two, 7 space ladders.  I felt 15 was pretty long and I wanted 2 ladders (1Var, 1JV).

Really simple process as he lays it out for ya.  I went to Lowe's last night and purchased then - 10' PVC pipes, 3/4 inch, and 32 T's to fit them together.  I already had a pair of PVC cutters laying around the house.

My bill came to $28.63 for all the PVC.

When I got home from Lowe's last night I measured all the cuts and started cutting, took about 25 minutes or so for all the measuring and cutting (i had a crappy pair of cutters which slowed me down a bit)

For this project (2 ladders, 7 spaces each)
I needed
  • 16 - 36" poles
  • 32 - 14" poles
  • 32 - T fittings
Last night after the cutting

I brought the pieces with me to the school to assemble ( I have a car so I wouldn't be able to transport the ladders pre-assembled).

I subbed today and the classes were watching a movie all day, so I was able to put the pieces together in the back of class while they watched the movie, took less than 10 minutes. 

Here is the finished product

Great news, I received my KODAK HD pocket video cam (mentioned here)in the mail today, I got it sooner than I expected... which means that I will be filming everything on Monday (our first day of spring ball).

I will be sure to have some slips of ladder drill up early next week!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Drill Videos to come soon!!!

Since I started this blog I have received a TON of reader requests for film, especially of drills.  I have had some issues figuring out getting HUDL stuff off and on to the blog and I have just been lazy but this will soon change.

With Spring ball officially starting here on Monday I decided to purchase one of these
Kodak ZxD

Compares quality to the FLIP but I purchased it because it was cheaper and you can add an SD card up to 32 gig, instead of being stuck with a 4gb flip.

This will be in my pocket pretty much 24/7 but most importantly out there on the field so I can film drills, for teaching as well as blogging.

Now my next project becomes finding at least 1 student assistant to help out at practice and film for me. 

I am hoping to receive the camera sometime within the next week and I will be posting video with it as soon as I get my hands on it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sports Psychology - Applied to football

Well it turns out that my college education is NOT a complete waste of time.  Lately I have been able to see more of a connection between the kinesiology classes I take and coaching.  I have a set list of classes I have had to complete to graduate in June but instead of just getting through things so I can teach, I am actually beginning to LEARN things that I can apply to coaching.

Sports Psychology is my final scientific kinesiology class in my way of graduating but it has been without a doubt the most interesting, rewarding, and applicable class I have ever taken.  Before I began this class I had negative connotations (as I'm sure many coaches do) of what sports psych really is. 

I just pictured people asking about athlete's feelings and what they are thinking... basically a big waste of time.  My thinking on sports psychology was to not be negative to the kids, and get them to just play ball.

I am sure there are people reading this right now that think the same way.  The fact is psychological skills are a huge facet of football or any activity and these skills can be improved just like a backpedal or down block.

The first step is on us as coaches to get educated, i highly encourage all of to take a basic sports psych class to give yourself a foundation to build from.  If any of you need continuing education to keep employment try finding a sports psych class.  I will do my best to synthesize and summarize the valuable nuggets I have gotten from class but you will get the best benefit from taking a course yourself.

The first basic concept to understand is arousal level and anxiety level.  Arousal is essentially how activated a kid might be, arousal is not inherently bad, an increase in arousal can result in an increase in focus.  However with arousal also comes an increase in anxiety.  Anxiety is the stress and nervousness our athletes, and even coaches feel.

Anxiety takes away from performance because it destroys focus, confidence, and it diverts attentional space within the brain.  It hinders physical performance and can cause athletes to both mentally and physically lock up.  Over anxiety can literally cause an athletes muscles to lock up uncontrollably. 

It is important to understand that we as coaches must get to know our players on an individual basis so we can determine what level of arousal they need to play.  Understanding our players, and their arousal and anxiety levels can allow us to maximize their performance and focus by minimizing their stress. 

The goal of sports psych is getting our kids in to, or as close as possible to being "in the zone."

For each kid this zone is different, some kids perform better at low arousal levels, some at high arousal levels, and some are somewhere in between.  This is something I have to work on next year, I am a big Ra Ra guy on Friday nights and try to get everyone pumped up, essentially getting everyone to high arousal levels, and while this may have been helping some of my athletes it is absolutely crushing others.  For those low arousal in the zone kids I have just taken them to an uncomfortable arousal level, undoubtedly increasing their anxiety, now couple that with it being a big game, or against a rival, or homecoming, or their girlfriend just broke up with them, and this kid is not focused on football or at the top of his game, neither physically or mentally. 

This all affects what information athletes take in visually and how they process it.  Each athlete is different but when they are in their zone they take are able to take in relevant information on the field and exclude everything else.  If they become too aroused, or not enough they will either go into tunnel vision and not take in visual information from a wide enough scope, or they will take everything in, including all outside distraction and irrelevant information.

We of course want to give our kids the best chance to be focused, play confidently, and succeed so how do we go about applying these concepts.

Just like in football we have to practice these psychological skills. 

First we must explain to the kids what I have laid out, and then begin working on anxiety management and getting int heir zone at practice.  Each kid will begin to get their own sense of what level of arousal they play best at.  Once we can master this in practice we can apply it in games.

Red Light, Green Light, Yellow Light

This concept will allow you to understand where each kid is at pre game.
Once the kids understand the concepts or arousal, anxiety, and their optimal zone we teach them red, yellow, and green light.

Green Light is being in the zone... whatever that zone is for the kid.  So if a kid is feeling great, no stress, just perfect ready to kick ass, he is green light.  "hey Johnson, how do we feel?"  "Green light coach!"  Now you know that kid is fine, you do not need to do anything, he is ready to go.

Yellow light - over aroused - He is feeling anxious, nervous, worrying, you need to lower his arousal level now because he is about to crap down his leg.

Red light - under aroused - they are not pumped up enough to be focused, this kid needs that great Al Pacino pep talk or fired up head butt.

By quantifying their arousal and anxiety levels the kids are able to give you a measurable glimpse into their mind.  Then you as the coach can apply intervention to get them into their optimal zone.

I hope this didn't get too boring lol, I think there are some good concepts for us to use in football within this sports psych class.

As I progress through the quarter expect more posts on the concepts from sports psych I can use in football.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My favorite play action concept

I have recently received some private emails asking to discuss play action and goal line passes in the spread, so I decided to offer up my favorite play action pass concept.  I first began running this simple PA concept in a splitback fly/pro style offense.  Our bread and butter was criss cross counter trey and this was our play action off of that look.  We had a ton of success with it, and I wanted to get the same look out of our spread stuff at my new school.  I realized that I could easily do the exact same things out of a 2x2 set as I could out of our splitback set.

From splitbacks we would criss cross the backs, one slipped into the flat, TE ran a deep drag, SE ran a Go (basically just to clear out) and flanker ran a backside post.  These routes are easily converted into our spread stuff, we have merely moved the 2nd RB into the left slot position (H).

We fake to the RB going Right
Use standard Boot protection up front with the OL

X has a go but if he cant get on top of his defender he will run it at the safety, to take 2 defenders away
H has a 5 yard out
Y has the Deep Cross 
Z has a backside post (with the option of curling it up in the MOF if there is grass)

Qb reads the Go first (this is just a homerun play we see pre snap)
his read really comes from reading from the out - to the cross

When we ran this under center every single time either the RB was wide open in the flat or the Y was wide open...  It was a great play for us.  I installed it last season with my JV team but didn't get around to running it much.  Finally called it on a big 3rd down play, and got everything I wanted, deep coverage went deep with the X.  Flat defender jumped the out, so we would have had Y WIDE open on the cross... but he ran straight into one of the officials, fell down and never got back up.  I should have worked on it more so I would have called it more. 

I think it will be a great PA concept for us this season and it is my favorite PA pass (both spread and UC)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tony Franklin Anaheim recap

Got back last night from the TFS seminar in Anaheim last night.  It was a great experience for myself and the rest of the staff.  Some of it was review because we ran a fake version of it last year, no huddle, air raid pass game, vertical sets, screens, we just didn't do some things right.

After going this weekend, seeing all the things we get on DVD, flash drive, all the resources, I am very happy we made the choice to buy in to this system for real.  There were some new things modified this year from last year's stuff that I really liked.  They simplified the pass protection down even more than last year and at first I was slightly confused by it but after some review I see how easy the rules are and we will make the same switch. 

If you have never heard Tony Franklin speak before then you NEED TO.  He was awesome, energetic, colorful, football genius, he made sitting down for hours watching PowerPoint's and cut ups seem fun.  I am very excited to get Spring ball started so we can start putting this stuff in.

I have to be honest, we have way too much information, they keep no secrets, they give you every detail and every play possible in this offense, now our staff has to sit down and condense it into what we want to run and get really good at.  I love the overall philosophy of this offense, i think that is what separates it from other systems.  The offense itself is simple, but effective because of Tempo and limited plays, which allow them to get a ridiculous amount of reps.  They get really good at just a few things and run them over and over again super fast paced.  This aligns dead on with my personal philosophy.  i would much rather run 1 play perfectly than to run a bunch of plays mediocre.

I feel good about our team next year and think this seminar will be a major factor in turning last year's 1-9 into a much improved 2011 season.

Although the clinics are done for the year, teams can still become clients, they get access to all the good stuff, DVDs, flashdrive, conference calls, website.  If you have all of that you actually do not need the clinic itself because every single thing is recorded and put onto DVD for your entire staff and players to review.  If anyone is interested in becoming a client please let me know and I can refer you to the staff.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Different kinds of kids require different kinds of coaching

I think one of the most often overlooked areas (and most IMPORTANT) of teaching/coaching is being an adaptive teacher/coach.

In my eyes a "good" coach must be willing to adapt not only his playbook but his own coaching personality, not just year to year but from kid to kid.

There are a great number of personality types for kids, and this must be dealt with by being able to communicate with/to them in different ways.  I think one of my greatest strengths as a coach is my ability to deal with, relate to, and speak with the kids.  This may stem from my closer proximity in age compared to most of the guys i coach with, or maybe it is just my personality.  Either way I have always felt I can connect to the kids.

A teacher once told me that what makes a coach a GREAT coach isn't when a kid listens to you, or fears you, it is when a kid WANTS to do good for YOU. This message struck me and has stayed with me.  Many coaches motivate by screaming, yelling, and wagging there finger, but does this make the kid play hard for you, to do well in your eyes? Or is he playing to not get yelled at anymore?

I often see coaches locked into one personality type, either stern, unfriendly, dictator style, some are screamers, some are too nice, an effective, adaptive coach can do it all.

I know for example, there are some kids I can yell at, that yelling motivates them and pushes them to excel, while there are others that if I yelled at them in the same way simply couldn't handle it.  They need to be pulled aside, talked to more calmly, and they will be more successful.  Some kids self implode with the pressure/fear that comes from the yelling, and some kids just can not be yelled at, they shut you out, and quit on you.

As a coach, we must learn our kids, just as we ask them to learn our playbooks.  Better understanding how each kid works, thinks, and learns will only increase your ability to coach them up to reaching their full potential.

This isn't true of just football either.  I have been a Varsity HC in both boys and girls volleyball.
My knowledge of volleyball is basic at best, but I have had a relatively great amount of success in volleyball because I understand how to motivate my kids and get the most out of them at practice and in games.

If what you do works for you that is fine, but everything I have written above I truly believe in and I think it is something we as coaches all need to look ourselves in the mirror about.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Screens - Cage Drill

I have received a ton of reader interest on the series of posts on screens, so I decided to add more to the series.

Below i will diagram and explain what I call "Cage Drill"  this is the only drill we use for our screen game (OL)

I do this 1 or 2, 5 minute segments per day and we will rep screens live.  What I love about this drill is that it
  • Works all necessary skills needed for our screen game
  • Allows me to check for understanding of each of the screens
  • Emphasis on the proper release/steps
  • Emphasis on not "whiffing" on contact
First let me explain the drill layout, drill roles, and the rotation.
Please excuse the crude diagram of the drill.  O is the Offensive Lineman who is working, D represents defensive dummy players.  The orange circles are cones.

This drill uses 4 defensive players.  2 on each side.
1 Defender on each side is in the "cage"  they can move around anywhere within the cage, as your guys get better expand to bigger cages to they really have to get good at covering ground.

This cage defender is holding a bag (or no bag if you want to go live) their job is to move around a bit, try to juke the OL as if he were a LB or DB avoiding a blocker

The other 2 act as DL, they just come up the field a few steps on every rep.  They are there so the offensive player gets used to proper disengagement and release for the given screen called. 

Once an OL guys on offense, he takes the bag and moves into the cage, that previous cage defender becomes the new DL, that DL moves to the back of the offensive line.  That is how we cycle through to keep everyone moving efficiently.  We get a decent amount of reps on this, probably 4 or 5 per minute.  Do not let them slack, they run to switch spots and rotate.

If you have a lot of kids, I have broken up into 2 cage drills and have run them simultaneously, or have another assistant take over

Teaching points

First to check for learning I call all of our screens in 3 different ways.  We might be doing Jailbreak right for a player's given rep.  His wristband would say Jail Rt in a game.  So I can call it this way, or I can call it by our no huddle name for it, or i can call it by our audible name for it.  We have 3 different ways to call each screen, so when we do cage drill I constantly mix up the names I am using to be sure that they have learned our system. 

They have to take the proper steps/release described in my earlier posts on screens Screens - OL

The keys I stress are working flat down the LOS, and once they near the cage defender they need to break down just like an open field tackle.  They must buzz their feet, widen their base, and punch the defender, then run their feet to stay engaged/in front of the defender.  They block until my whistle then everyone rotates.

As we get better I really start making HUGE cages for the defenders to move around in, really gets the guys good at blocking in space.

Please keep the questions/comments coming

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vertical Set

I want to give some insight into vertical set pass protection. 

I used traditional kick slide technique for my first 4 years as a coach and discovered vertical pass sets about a year ago.  I began researching the technique and drills, began meeting with coaches, and watched some coaches teach it.  I learned most of what I know about vertical setting from Brian Hamilton, head Coach at Concord HS, in Concord, CA where I live.  I think he is one of the best OL coaches in northern CA and his team won the NCS D-2 Championship this season.

The vertical pass set is ridiculous simple... walk backwards as fast as you can.

Now to traditionalists they will say everything about vertical setting is wrong, the backward retreat will get you bullrushed, you have no leverage and power blah blah blah, the fact is if you coach it right it isn't true, and it is in my mind the simplest form of pass protection and I think it is superior to kick slide

What is it basically?

Vertical setting is essentially the OL equivalent of a backpedal. 
We retreat backwards away from the LOS , looking for all 5 OL to remain on the same vertical plane. 

The OL steps should go
Inside - Out - Inside - Out

basically we always step with the inside foot first, and then the outside foot.  for all 90s protection we take 4 steps back before dropping we "Anchor".  Many teams only use this protection but I still use a separate 60s protection, that is the same thing but for 2 steps.

The vertical portion isn't that difficult to teach, you just need reps.  We just start working our kids to backpedal, but with big steps.  I try to get them to cover ground in those 4 steps, the whole purpose of vertical setting is to be as deep as possible when we make contact.  The kids will feel goofy, look like crap at first, and some might tumble, but keep working it, they will get better and better each day.  By the season some of my OL had better feet than our corners.

Vertical setting is about getting depth, and keeping the 5 OL on the same level until contact is made
It really is easy to teach the base idea, but the devil is in the details.  You have to really work what I call the Anchor

So traditionalists will tell you setting like that will leave you high and with no leverage, and this is semi true, the anchor is what remedies this and helps us regain leverage.  Once that 4th step hits, we DROP our butt right now, to resume that "perfect pass pro posture" that kick slide coaches think they and they alone possess.  The anchor is about when an OL will decide who he is taking.

Vertical sets are so wonderful to me, because the depth and timing of the steps allows you to see any twists or blitzes that might occur.  If any stunt is on, it is happening right in front of my OL while they are setting, they anchor right when they defense should be showing their hand, and then boom we are ready to punch and work our feet.

For those who think we have given up all leverage by backpedaling remember this... SO HAVE THE D Linemen!!!
some of you are thinking, a bull rush will kill them, DL will be right underneath them coming out of their 3 point

well take a look at this DE's stance...

Look at his butt up in the air, all that power stored in those coiled hips... well guess what by the time he reaches us (because of our depth) he will be much more upright, and he will have lost a great deal of his power.

If we anchor after that 4th step, then WE will be the low man, and WE will have the leverage advantage.

Go ask anyone of your DL to do a 5 yard get off, I guarantee by yard #5 he has risen a ton and his body is pretty much upright

We want to be 4-5 yards deep when we make contact
-we start out 1 yard off the ball by alignment
-we try to get those extra yards off of our vertical set

We feel that if we have to make your DL sprint 5 yards before contact, that will take 1 full second.  So before contact we have already blocked you for 1 second.  Now all i do is ask my OL to stay in that man's way for 2 more full seconds (this is whatever you normally teach for pass pro, punch footwork, countering moves, all of that doesn't change from whatever you normally do)

That is 3 seconds, my QB should have it off by then

You would be amazed at how many times I saw opposing DL just stop rushing... they flat out quit because they got tired of chasing my OL just to get even with them, then having to work to get around them, then having to work to get my QB on the ground...
They would get off the ball, see it was a pass, and just stop their feet.

After this season I am a firm believer in what vertical setting can do for you.  My JV team for example, we had somewhere between 250-300 pass attempts on the year, we gave up 5 sacks total.  I think that is a pretty damn good job of pass protecting.

One game alone we threw the ball 42 times and only gave up 1 sack. 
The vertical sets allowed my guys to see every blitz coming.  We never gave up a sack due to scheme, all 5 sacks were just a case of one kid beating another 1 on 1, that's football you win some, you lose some... but I will definitely take somewhere near 300 pass attempts and give up only 5 sacks.

The worst part about traditional pass pro in my mind was the quick sacks... sometimes a kid lunges out and the DL swims over him right at the snap, and he is in the backfield instantly, blowing up the QB.  We never have that now, there is no chance for the instant play because that DL has to run 5 yards before he even gets into position to be able to work a move.

No BIG hits on the QB.  With this system, and the fact that everyone (even if they are HORRIBLE) is at least slowing the other guy down, I have found that the QB sacks we do see in our program are more pull down, grabbing type sacks, never the BIG collision.

All in All, vertical setting is more effective than traditional kick slide, and I think it is very easy to teach.  It isn't fancy, not a whole lot of technique, you can get away with telling your kids, run backwards as fast as you can... and you're half way through coaching it ;)